One of the nicest surprises for Mother's Day weekend is letting Mom get away from her routine of taking care of you and the kids, Dad.
That means it could be the day (Saturday or Sunday) to tell her you'll be preparing dinner, right down to dessert (even if you do buy her favorite treat).
It can be done. Trust me. You can put a simple but delicious meal on the table for your wife, your mom or grandma without injuries, fire or mayhem.
This will work best if you have some help. Divide and conquer with the following simple recipes.
If you've got adult kids, put them to work. Guilt helps here. Remind them that they only have one Mom.
If the kids are young and at home, assign tasks like tearing lettuce, loading the dishwasher and setting the table. You know your kids, so give them something to do! Tell them about the card they can make for Mom that shows each task they did to help. That's usually good incentive.
What to do
First task is to figure out the menu, then dole out the recipes if you've got teen or adult help.
Do your grocery shopping early and check your list twice.
My initial advice is to include a salad in the meal; it's simple and easy to prepare, you can do it ahead of time and you can vary ingredients according to family (and Mom's) favorites.
I also suggest you have a seasoned cook/friend on speed-dial in case you have a question.
These are easy-to-prepare recipes. If you are minus a piece of equipment, borrow it. (When you tell your aunt or sister why you need her slow cooker, you may not only get a pat on the back, but a little help and advice!)
Does Mom enjoy barbecue? Try Slow Cooker Ribs that are finished under the broiler.
Does she prefer chicken? Try the Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken.
Would she really enjoy a steak, but still wants to stay on the healthy side of eating? Try the Mexican Steak Salad.
Best to keep it simple.
For ribs, baked potatoes are easy to prepare.
For the garlic baked chicken, try a simple pasta, such as Creamy Macaroni and Cheese cooked on the stovetop and browned under the broiler.
For the steak salad, broil garlic cheese bread and be done with it. See the recipe here.
If you feel your skills aren't up to making a cake or pie, buy a store-bought pound cake (yes, Sara will do nicely), fresh strawberries and a can of whipped cream. Slice the berries, add some sugar, mix and let sit to make juices. Serve by slicing pound cake, adding berries and topping with whipped cream.
If Mom loves chocolate, cut a pound cake or angel food cake into bite-size squares and layer cake, then chocolate pudding and Cool-Whip in a big glass bowl. Repeat. End with Cool-Whip on top. Get fancy and buy some chocolate sprinkles for the top, if you want.
If you can make a cake in a 9-by-13 pan, try the recipe here for Peach Dump Cake. It's so easy that the kids can definitely help you since it only requires one pan in which to make it.
A sundae buffet is always fun, too, for an ice cream fan. Buy a couple favorite flavors, some toppings, nuts and whipped cream.
Rachel at thestayathomechef.com has concocted a way to make ribs easy in the slow cooker, while handling how to also get that nice crispy browned effect that comes from the grill.
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
1. Put ribs in a big crockpot. You may have to cut them in pieces or bend them around the inside of the crock to fit.
2. Lather with barbecue sauce. You'll need about 1 cup of sauce (store-bought is fine) for each rack of ribs. Save some for Step 4.
3. Cook on low 6-8 hours. You will know they are done when they almost fall off the bone.
4. Turn on the broiler. Gently remove the racks and lay them out on a foil-lined baking tray. Add more sauce on top.
5. Broil 3-5 minutes until the sauce starts to bubble and caramelize.
Alternately, you could wrap them in foil and throw them on a heated grill for the same effect. This keep the ribs warm until ready to eat and makes it easy to pass out portions.
Mexican Steak Salad
15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
10-ounce package mixed salad greens
1 avocado, peeled and chopped
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup salsa
1 pound boneless sirloin steak
1 cup French or ranch salad dressing*
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
In large bowl combine beans, salad greens, avocado, tomatoes, and cheese and toss to combine. Add salsa and toss to combine.
Brush steak with 2 tablespoon french salad dressing (or favorite marinade) and grill steak as preferred by Mom.
Remove steak from grill, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on salad. Drizzle with ranch or favorite dressing and top with tortilla chips. Serve immediately. Makes 8 servings
Baked Garlic Parmesan Chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup dry bread crumbs, such as Progresso (flavored is OK)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.
2. In a bowl, blend the olive oil and garlic.
In a separate bowl, mix the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, basil and pepper.
3. Dip each chicken breast in the oil mixture, then in the bread crumb mixture.
4. Arrange the coated chicken breasts in the prepared baking dish, and top with any remaining bread crumb mixture.
5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. Serves 6.
CREAMY MACARONI AND CHEESE
2 large eggs
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk, divided
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 pound penne or other tubular, ridged pasta
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 ounce (about 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko or regular bread crumbs
1. Whisk together eggs, 1 cup evaporated milk, cayenne pepper and mustard in a small bowl.
2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, return to the pot and toss with butter over low heat until butter is melted.
3. Stir in egg mixture and Jack cheese until cheese is just melted. Stirring constantly, add remaining evaporated milk and Cheddar cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted and sauce is slightly thickened and piping hot, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt.
4. Preheat broiler. Scrape macaroni into an 8-inch-square broiler-safe baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan and then bread crumbs. Broil until topping is browned. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
1 16-ounce loaf of Italian bread or French bread
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves of garlic, smashed and minced
1 heaping tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley or basil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Toasted: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the bread in half, horizontally. Mix the butter, garlic, and parsley together in a small bowl. Spread butter mixture over the two bread halves. Place on a sturdy baking pan (one that can handle high temperatures, not a cookie sheet) and heat in the oven for 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over bread if you want. Return to oven on the highest rack. Broil on high heat for 2-3 minutes until the edges of the bread begin to toast and the cheese (if you are using cheese) bubbles. Watch very carefully while broiling. The bread can easily go from un-toasted to burnt.
Remove from oven, let cool a minute. Remove from pan and make 1-inch thick slices. Serve immediately.
Soft: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the butter, garlic, parsley mixture as above.
Make 1-inch thick slices into the bread, but do not go all the way through, just to the bottom crust.
Put a teaspoon or two of the butter mixture between each slice.
Wrap the bread in aluminum foil and heat for 15 minutes in the oven.
Peach Dump Cake
1 large can sliced peaches in light syrup (about 29 ounces)
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour canned peaches, along with syrup, into a 9x13" baking pan, leaving out just 1/2 cup of the syrup. Gently cut up the peach slices into smaller chunks, and spread out evenly in pan.
2. Spread the yellow cake mix over the top of the peaches, covering evenly.
3. Cut up butter into 16 pieces and spread over the top of the cake mix.
4. Sprinkle brown sugar and chopped nuts over the top of the cake mixture. That's all there is to the prep work!
5. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F, and remove to cool slightly before serving.
Top with whipped cream, ice cream, or serve plain. The dump cake can be deserved cooled as well, but the top will be most crispy within the first day or two.
Lucy at myediblememories.com adapted this recipe from Bakerella